Tarsier, ‘icon of PH tourism’, sought out as pets—foundation

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MANILA, Philippines –The fame of the Philippine tarsier is driving people to want to take them from their natural habitat and make them their pets, the Philippine Tarsier Foundation Inc. (PTFI), said Friday after a second rescued tarsier in Quezon City died.

PTFI Program Manager Joannie Mary Cabillo said in an exclusive phone interview with INQUIRER.net that “the tarsier is becoming very famous, it’s an icon of tourism, and an icon of the Philippines.”

“People become interested to have them as a pet [and] because of this there are many poachers who sell them to interested buyers,” she said.

The Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) said that they rescued Tuesday another tarsier that was put inside a baggage in a bus terminal in Quezon City.

The tarsier died Thursday. The cause of death was still not clear but PAWB Director Mundita Lim said it was not eating much when they took care of it.

A tarsier was rescued in the Manila Golf and Country Club in Makati City last June 22 but died five days later.

Cabillo said that the people who brought these tarsiers from their natural habitats in the Visayas and Mindanao region could be to either sell them or keep them as pets.

“There are places where you can get tarsiers, not just in Bohol but also in Mindanao. There could not possibly by any place in Manila where it can thrive [so it will likely be for the] pet trade,” she said.

“That’s the only thing we can think of, it’s something which money is involved,” Cabillo added. “[Tarsiers are] very very popular, that’s why they’re there [in Manila], that would not happen if they’re not popular.”

More useful in the natural habitat

The Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta), which is endemic only to the country, is more useful if they are kept in their natural habitat, Cabillo said, citing the benefits of eco-tourism to the country.

“The Philippines is very lucky to have the tarsier and that’s one of the reasons why we are famous,” she said.

“Don’t take them as pets, they’re very boring animals to be kept as pets. All day they just sit around and sleep and at night they like to travel and hunt,” Cabillo added, citing their nocturnal nature.

Government officials should be tighter in the enforcement of environment and wildlife regulations. She said that tarsiers were not the only endemic species in the Philippines being poached.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Philippine tarsier as “Near Threatened” due to population decline over the last 20 years, habitat loss, and “harvesting for the pet trade.”

“It is heavily harvested as food and especially for the pet trade. This is illegal, but there are recent anecdotal reports that the pet markets in Manila are being flooded with tarsiers retailing at less than P500 per individual,” the IUCN said on its website.

Related story:

Another rescued tarsier dies

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Hannibal

    Reminds me of the crazy guy in the Green Mile movie who did not wet the rag to be used in electrocuting a convict. But at least the guy was bothered by his conscience and gone crazy, while these people don’t show any remorse at all.

  • Marx Louis Wang

    With the fast vanishing act of forests, how can we retain or even increase the population of this endangered “icon”? Time will come when there will be no nature left for their paradise.

  • opinyonlangpo

    Any pet direct from the wilds have little chance of survival in captivity. Some don’t eat at all till they die.

  • bok

    Give the poacher two choices. Let him eat the dead rotting body of this specie he poached or a 20 year imprisonment living with murderers, rapists and other criminals..

  • CyberPinoy

    We need a better law with greater punishment for wildlife smuggling !
    Para sa mga mambabatas natin kaysa gumawa kayo ng mga WALANG KWENTANG BATAS tulad ng pagpalit ng PILIPINAS sa FILIPINAS, dapat ito nalang gawin nyo ang palakasin ang penalty ng mga existing pero obsolete penalties na mga batas. Madami tayong batas na ganyan pero walang ngipin dahil sa nakakatawang penalties ito ay kayang-kayang labagin ng mga walangyang tao dyan !

  • warillaman

    Its definitely chinks who are the culprits here, its another business for them to be sent back to mainland chinks country to entertain their jobless slave workforce now, they have nothing else to do, no orders coming from other countries, he,he,he,he,

    • 3xposed

      Hot air from the pinas without a shred of evidence as usual.

    • Penny Lane

      Of course, blame every ills of your sick society on them. Just like the Jews, who were the convenient scapegoat of Christian Europe since the dawn of Christianity. There are many similarities between the Jewish and Chinese diasporas. Both the Jews (until the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and the establishment of the State of Israel) and overseas Chinese are passive but both are no longer pushovers. Their respective motherlands, Israel and China, are now militarily capable and in the case of China economically strong. Today, no one would dare to unleash pogroms on Jews and Chinese without suffering dire economic and military consequences.

      • warillaman

        he,he,he,he, and you have the gull and temerity to compare yourself mongoloids to the jews, did you have the covenant with the almighty too?? pretty sure a pact with the devil you’re a godless birth defected race!! he,he,he, well, day of reckoning has come, you’re going back to whence you come, gnashing your teeth, you bully other countries, use force to get islands, steal designs, kill every job all over the world with your slaved workforce and of course I blame you mongoloid for the ills of my country, poaching, stealing, and definitely are the ones corrupting every politicians, government officials and everything in between.

  • md’c™

    Anybody killing or capturing Tarsier or any other species in the wild should be shøt to deåth. What would you do if other people captures you and kept you in a locked room as their own pet. Stay away from the Tarsier, they are just like any other living creatures, afraid, and wants to live alone like everybody else. Stay away !

  • pepito gwaps

    this little creature is very sensitive to noise why somebody need to bring them here in Metro Manila is densely populated with so many human beings … that guy is crazy

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